Does Alcohol Cause Hair Loss?

Tomorrow is the last day of Dryuary.

What’s Dryuary? It’s Dry January (so clever, I know). This year, news outlets everywhere were taking about the newest diet to kick off 2019 - no alcohol for the month of January. For thousands of Americans, tomorrow marks the last day of their alcohol-free diet.

With all this alcohol talk, I started wondering if alcohol intake affects your hair. The answer is yes and no. There is no direct link between drinking alcohol and hair loss. However, drinking alcohol does cause chemical changes in the body that may negatively affect your hair. Here’s what you need to know about alcohol and your hair. 

Dehydration & Hair Follicles

After a long night of drinking, your body is missing one very important fluid - water. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates you. When your body is dehydrated, blood circulation decreases. Blood transports vital nutrients throughout the body, including to your hair follicles. When your hair follicles aren’t getting the nutrients they need, your hair’s health suffers. 

Acid Levels & Keratin Proteins

Your body does its best to maintain a slightly alkaline pH (roughly 7.4). When you drink alcohol, your body’s pH shifts over to acidic. Your body then uses stored proteins, like keratin, to neutralize the increased acid levels. Keratin is a key protein in hair growth and development. Therefore, every time you consume alcohol, your body takes proteins away from your hair and use it to neutralize the acidity in the body.

Sugar & Miniaturization 

Many alcoholic drinks - like cocktails, drinks with mixers, and beer - contain a lot of sugar.  While some sugar gives you energy, too much sugar can shock your body and be a source of inflammation. Hair follicle inflammation leads to a process of miniaturization, where the hair follicles shrink. Long, healthy hair requires a large, healthy hair follicle to grow from. Therefore, when your hair follicle shrinks, your hair will too. 

Should You Stop Drinking?

There is no direct link between drinking alcohol and hair loss. One glass of wine (or a few) every once in a while may not lead to thinning or damaged hair. However, when you drink excessively, your body has to work hard to recalibrate itself. These chemical processes caused from drinking may negatively affect your hair. 

If you are experiencing hair loss, or if want to promote increased hair health, try your own version of Dryuary and cut back on your alcohol intake. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll see a change in your hair, but not drinking alcohol won’t hurt your hair either.